Jun 19, 2009 01:15 PM | 3
A lone male wolverine arrived in northern Colorado earlier this month, making him the first confirmed wolverine in the state since 1919.
In December, conservation biologists had outfitted the young wolverine, which is part of a reintroduction program farther north, with a tracking collar and watched him make the 500-mile (805-kilometer) journey from the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, crossing rugged landscapes and even busy Interstate-80, reports the Denver Post.
Wolverines are commonly known as fearless, aggressive creatures. "Wolverines are the real 'iron men' of the animal kingdom," director of the Greater Yellowstone Wolverine Program, Robert Inman, said in a statement. Although they only weigh about 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms), they have been known to drag sizable carcasses and travel for long distances with their legs caught in traps. Their fearsome claws have even inspired superhero flicks.
Proponents of reintroduction efforts, however, maintain that these large members of the weasel family are mostly scavengers and don't pose much of a threat to livestock—despite their Latin name, Gulo gulo, which means "glutton."
A popular target of early fur trappers in the American West, wolverines had pretty much vanished from the lower 48 states 80 years ago. Today, according to Inman's estimates, there are about 250 roaming the country. In more recent times, there have been several unconfirmed sightings in Colorado, according to a 2004 article from The Rocky Mountain News.
"It is one of the most elusive and just mysterious creatures," Inman told The New York Times.
Despite their legendary tenacity, previous research has also shown the little carnivores to be quite dedicated fathers. Biologists suspect M56 is on the prowl for a female so he can start a family of his own. This rambling Romeo may be out of luck, for now anyway.
Image of a wolverine from the 1960s courtesy of National Park Service via Wikimedia Commons
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